How to get a good night's sleep

Here's how to overcome whatever's stopping you from clocking in those crucial rest hours.

Are you having trouble getting to sleep? Or do you wake in the night and then lie awake for hours trying to get back to sleep?

While there may not be a quick and easy way to cure insomnia, with most people experiencing difficulty sleeping at some point in their lives, it’s worth exploring all the your options, from lifestyle changes and improving your sleeping environment to investing in a good supportive mattress. Here are a few Furniture Choice tips for getting a good night’s sleep.

Room for improvement

Your bedroom should be a cool, dark, quiet environment, where you feel comfortable, restful and calm. Start by decluttering – clear out any unnecessary items and invest in storage options such as an Ottoman trunk or a bed with under-bed drawers. Bedrooms that double up as home offices are not the best idea. Not only do you have the constant reminder of work but any paperwork is likely to attract dust.

Grey and pink bedroom with a brass lamp

Blackout blinds or curtains will help block out early morning sun and muffle exterior noise and a fan will help circulate air and keep you cool on warmer nights.

Grey and white bedroom, with dark furniture and Venetian blinds

If you’ve had the same bedroom décor since the 1980s, it’s definitely time for a change. Treating your bedroom to a makeover can improve your environment and have a knock-on effect on how comfortable and rested you feel – take a look at our decorating ideas for bedrooms guide for inspiration.

Keep calm and sleep

With many households now owning tablets, it may be tempting to check your email, catch up on work or do your online shopping in bed.All of these activities are best avoided just before sleep as they can make it harder to relax and switch off.

If you find yourself lying awake worrying about work, family issues or money, avoid reading emails or checking your online bank account right before bed.

Collection of classic books

Computer games are a popular late-night activity, but studies have shown that playing exciting games for extended periods can make you more likely to wake in the night.Watching a thriller on TV can have the same effect; best to unwind by reading a novel or listen to calming music before bed.

Midnight feast

Busy lifestyles can make it hard to grab a bite during the day, but eating a large meal late at night means your body will still be working hard to digest the food when you are trying to sleep.

Consuming food and drink high in sugar late at night can prevent sleep by causing energy spikes. Spicy foods, fry ups and red meat should also be avoided, as well as high-fibre foods such as some vegetables and cereals.

Warm mug of tea

Caffeine is a stimulant, so try to cut down your daily intake and avoid drinking caffeinated drinks in the evening – try green tea, peppermint tea (good for digestion) or a milky drink instead.

Too much alcohol can send you straight into a deep sleep, missing the important REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, when the body repairs itself. You are also more likely to snore, become dehydrated and wake up in the night if you overindulge or drink alcohol close to bedtime.

Keen senses

Regular exercise not only keeps you healthier, it can improve the quality of your sleep. First, you are more likely to feel tired if you have been active during the day and second, exercise improves your overall relaxation. Even light exercise can have a significant effect on helping you get to sleep.

Relaxation techniques such as meditating or yoga can also have a hugely beneficial effect on sleep, as well as making you feel calmer in everyday life.

Coconut oil, and essential oils.

Our olfactory system – that’s sense of smell to you and me – is a powerful tool and can help us relax and fall asleep. Lavender is one of the most popular scents for promoting sleep – sprinkle a few drops in your bath, spray lavender on to your bedding or place a lavender bag under your pillow. Vanilla, camomile, jasmine and sandalwood are also considered excellent sleep scents.

Ceramic animal-shaped oil diffusers

Dimming the lights an hour or two before you head off to bed can help your body adjust to the idea that it’s time to sleep. Studies have found that artificial light can disrupt the release of melatonin – a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles – so a lower level of lighting can compensate for this. Equally, ensuring that light is blocked from your bedroom in the early morning can allow you to sleep in for longer.

Are you sleeping comfortably?

A new mattress can add an hour of extra sleep - use our mattress finding tool to find the perfect one for you.If your mattress is sagging in all the wrong places, you won’t be getting the support you need and you are less likely to enjoy a good night’s sleep. The Sleep Council recommends that you change your mattress as soon as the support starts to go and at least every seven years. Investing in a good quality mattress that supports you and moulds to your body, allowing for correct alignment of the spine, can make a major difference to the quality of your sleep.

Close up of mattress

Choose a mattress with a higher spring count and you’ll be bouncing your way through the daylight hours. Pocket springs are designed to provide targeted support, helping to ease aches and pains and promoting a better quality of sleep, with less tossing and turning.

High spring counts, including dual-spring mattresses with two different spring sizes, will increase support and help prevent roll together. Mattresses with more resilient springs at the edges will increase the available sleeping space – and don’t forget that a sprung divan base will provide more support than a simple box frame.

If your partner is significantly heavier or lighter than you, it’s worth looking at dual firmness mattresses. These can be manufactured as two mattresses zipped together or one mattress with different support zones. For more information about different types of mattresses, take a look at our definitive mattress guide.

Keep your cool

Overheating in bed usually leads to tossing and turning, followed by tiredness the next day. A memory foam mattress tends to retain heat more than a pocket sprung mattress filled with natural breathable fibres, such as wool, cotton and silk, as they allow air to circulate and are more effective at wicking away moisture.

Light mattresses and duvets

You may also want to ditch any bedding made from man-made fibres in favour of sheet and duvet covers made of breathable fabrics that help regulate temperature, such as high-quality Egyptian cotton with a thread count of between 200 and 400, or silk, which is also hypoallergenic.

If you find you are shivering while your partner is overheating – or vice-versa – check out dual tog duvets (also known as two-tog and split-tog duvets), which have a different tog rating on each side, for example: a 10.5 tog with a 13.5 tog, or a 4.5 tog with a 7 tog.

Snoring partners

Trying to sleep next to a partner who snores can be torture – they are keeping you awake while they are soundly in the land of nod. Men tend to snore more than women as they have narrower air passages, but there are solutions to your snoring nightmares.

  • If your partner is sleeping on their back, roll them gently on to their side as this will cut down on their snoring.
  • Sinus problems? They should avoid alcohol, which relaxes the throat muscles and exacerbates snoring. Drinking plenty of water can help thin the mucus and a warm damp flannel applied to the nose can help open up the nasal passages.
  • Sleeping next to a smoker? Smokers are twice as likely to snore than non smokers, so suggest nicotine patches or hypnotherapy to help them quit.
  • If your partner is overweight it can add to fatty tissue around the neck restricting their breathing, especially if they are older and their muscle tissue is more relaxed. Get them on to that treadmill!
  • Allergy sufferers will snore more so invest in a hypoallergenic latex or memory foam mattress and anti-allergy bedding made from natural fabrics.
  • Encourage your partner to take up yoga. The controlled breathing exercises used in yoga can help to strengthen the throat muscles.
  • While sleeping in separate rooms is a drastic solution, going to bed earlier than your partner when you really need a good night’s sleep can help you drop off first. And if all else fails, reach for the earplugs…
  • If you are sharing a double bed, you may want to take a step up to a king size or super king size mattress. The additional width and length will provide a larger sleeping area for both adults and make roll together less likely.
  • Having space to move around in bed will also help you settle into a comfortable position and keep your body temperature regulated. And let’s face it: there’s nothing like being kicked by a restless partner to disrupt a good night’s sleep!

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